Make your play active

Make your play active

RiseVT launches campaign to promote leisure-time movement

Twenty-severn percent of area residents do not engage in physical activity during their leisure time, according to a 2015 Behavior Risk Factor Survey, even though being active is as important for adults as it for kids.

RiseVT is launching an active play campaign intended to get more Franklin and Grand Isle residents up on their feet.

Participants will be able to follow along with RiseVT on social media channels and learn about community events that get whole families involved in play. Anyone who gets “playful” during the campaign can use the #RiseVTActivePlay hashtag on their own social media posts showing off the fun.

“We know that movement and interaction improves not only physical wellbeing but also emotional health,” said RiseVT Project Manager Denise Smith. “Being more connected now than ever before to technology, we are seeing increasing rates of childhood obesity in our community and by creating an active play campaign we believe that this will improve the lives of children and adults across Franklin and Grand Isle County”

Active Play is physical activity one performs for enjoyment or recreation such as building a snowman, ice skating, dancing or playing tag with kids.

Stay tuned for more information about Active Play and how you can get involved on our website.

Yoga teaches first-graders self-regulation skills

Yoga teaches first-graders self-regulation skills

Amy Ward, School Counselor at St. Albans Town Educational Center approached RiseVT with the idea of doing a six-week yoga class as part of the first grade curriculum. Ward currently teaches mindfulness to the second grade, and was interested in incorporating yoga into her first grade curriculum. Her hope was to provide students with skills for self-regulation so that they are more able to be present and ready to learn in the classroom and in life.

Jessica Frost, RiseVT Wellness Specialist who focuses on the Maple Run Unified District and Franklin West Supervisory Union, is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200) personally passionate about Yoga and a strong believer in mindfulness practices, especially in students.“Yoga provides students many tools for self-regulation.” Frost says, “It teaches them to listen to their own bodies and choose what they need to do in that moment to be ready to learn. Yoga provides poses, breathing, and mindfulness, so the students always have a choice.”

Before Frost went to Mrs. Curry’s first grade class, Mrs. Ward did a lesson with the students describing three states of energy, high, just right and low. Then, each week, the students had an opportunity to self-assess where their energy was on a chart. Jessica would teach a half hour yoga class and at the end, the students would again assess where their energy was.

Frost broke the activities into small increments for these short attention spans. Throughout the six weeks the class learned a variety of Yoga breaths, poses, mindful meditations, games and even a mantra song. They held yoga freeze dance parties and learned to recognize how their bodies worked to hold poses and find their balance.

In addition to the weekly yoga classes, Mrs. Curry continued to use yoga breaks throughout the day in class. Frost provided weekly letters to the families, describing the activities that were being practiced in class. Many students reported that they were now sharing yoga with their families.

The results were remarkable. At the end of each yoga class, more students were at “just right” than when they started. Also, anyone who was “high” at the start of yoga was no longer “high” after yoga. Everyone walked away more prepared to learn.“It’s great because the students can choose to do something that works for them to get to ‘just right’.” says Mrs. Curry. “I have found that the students are excited to do yoga poses and breathing when they are in need of a brain break.”

The message of choosing what works best for you in the moment is reaching the students. During the last session, one of the students chose to turn himself away from the circle to provide less visual distractions while performing a balancing pose. These kind of adaptations allow students to make choices necessary for more efficient learning.

Mrs. Curry asked one student who was struggling to focus in class to take a break. He went to the corner and did some breathing and practiced child’s pose. He now has the tools and the space to collect himself and come to that “just right” place once again before joining back into class.

RiseVT is working on bringing a Yoga4Classrooms training to St. Albans this Spring. It will be free for anyone in Franklin and Grand Isle who works with children. Keep an eye on RiseVT as we get details. Please continue to think of RiseVT as a resource for anything wellness related at schools within Franklin and Grand Isle County.

Highgate Steps It Up to Improve Walkability

Highgate Steps It Up to Improve Walkability

Highgate VT— 300 students, plus faculty, parents and community members celebrated the new stretch of sidewalk from Lamkin Street to a much desired flashing beacon leading pedestrians safety across Route 78 during the “Walk to School Day” on Friday December 1st.

So often a sidewalk can be thought of as a basic town necessity; however this is the first for this generation in Highgate, VT. Heidi Britch-Valenta, Town Administrator will agree that any major infrastructure change can take a significant amount of time and lots of community partners. This particular sidewalk project dates back to 2006 when the town received a grant to improve pedestrian safety from the Northwest Regional Planning Commission (NRPC). For the grant application the Planning Commission documented how challenging it was to navigate the village which is dissected by the very busy, US Route 78. At the time they also received 15 letters of support from local businesses. In 2007 the planning commission hired Resource System Group (RSG) out of Burlington as the design team to perform the feasibility study. They chose to focus on the Lamkin Street and Mill Hill area that could lead to a crosswalk on Route 78.

Upon completion the study sat stagnant for several years until the Planning Commission brought it forward to then new Town Administrator, Heidi in 2013. The sidewalk committee was created to keep working on the issue and was comprised of representatives from the planning commission, development review board (DRB), select board, library, and elementary school. In 2013 the town received a $250,000 grant that paved the way from Vermont Agency of Transportation, which required the town to contribute about $60,000 more tax payer’s dollars to fund its construction. The sidewalk committee then hired RSG as the design consultant for the project and they worked closely with the Planning Commission on the design and state permitting.  Simultaneously, Safe Routes to School began a pedestrian travel plan for the elementary school and Rise VT began to support both projects. The sidewalk project went out to bid in August and construction was started by GW Tatro Construction of Jeffersonville in September with Ruggiano Engineering of St. Albans as the construction inspection firm.

While Highgate school buses dropped off students at the St. Louis Church, select board members Joshua LaRocque and Randy Connelly thanked everyone who helped make the sidewalk project and Walk to School Day possible before Connelly’s son Beckett, did the honors of cutting the ribbon.  The students, faculty, parents, and community members walked the approximately .5 miles from St. Louis Church to Highgate Elementary School down Lamkin Street, with volunteer cross guard patrol from the Highgate Volunteer Fire Department at the new 2 cross walks, and the Police Department present at the cross at route 78. RiseVT Wellness Specialist Betsy Fournier says “This is a great way for kids to get some wiggles out before the school day.”

According to Safe Routes to School, walking and biking to school has many added benefits to our kids including:

  • Weight and blood pressure control
  • Bone, muscle, and joint health and maintenance
  • Reduction in the risk of diabetes
  • Improved psychological welfare
  • Better academic performance

Extremely active library director, Liza Comiskey, says “I saw a little boy on his bike trying to cross at the beacon and sure it took a few minutes for cars to actually stop but when they did he was able to cross safety. It will take time for a generational community like Highgate to adapt to new behavior. But this is the positive change we are looking to support.”

Chris Palmer, assistant principal at Highgate Elementary School cannot wait to do this again in the spring with partners RiseVT and Safe Routes to School!

The future of Highgate is looking bright and they have a great group of enthusiastic community members working on shaping Highgate into a healthier community one step at a time.

Fall into fitness at Hard’Ack

Fall into fitness at Hard’Ack

No membership required – Use a natural gym

By RACHEL NARKEWICZ • RiseVT Promotions Specialist & CHRISTINE GRIFFING • Certified Athletic Trainer

Ski Jump

Often seen performed on a set of bleachers, nature’s staircase can also make a great scenic location for the SKIP JUMP, just be sure to clear off any slippery leaves and use caution if the path is wet. With feet shoulder width apart, use your arm to help propel you up onto the first step. Engage your core, and take care to keep thighs parallel (don’t let your knees cave in together) during takeoff and landing. Keep knees, hips and ankles soft to land softly. Continue one step at a time or skip by one, until you reach the top. Jog or walk back down to the starting position.


PUSH-UPS are used to develop upper-body strength, and they can be performed anywhere. In order to gain the upper-body strength
necessary to do a push-up from the ground, start with the hands elevated on a bench, block, box or a staircase. Keep your core engaged, and hands directly below your shoulders. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the box or bench; do not let your hips sag at any point. Pause at the bottom, and then push yourself back up to the starting position.

Elevated Lunge

Commonly done with an assist of a dining room chair, the ELEVATED LUNGE really works your thighs and gluteal muscles, and can easily be performed outside. Find a sturdy elevated surface, and be sure to kick any slippery leaves out of the way if you are
performing outside. Place the top of your foot on the elevated surface, be sure your foot is far enough away so that when
you lower your hips, your knee stays directly over your ankle. Engage your glute and bend your front
knee to 90-degrees. Pushing through your front heel, straighten your front leg and rise back up to the starting position.

Tricep Dips

With a simple step, stair or box and your own body weight you can tone the muscle that runs on the backside of your upper arm, from your shoulder to your elbow — your TRICEPS. Position your hands shoulder-width apart, slide your bottom off the front and extend your legs. The straighter you keep your knees, the more challenging this exercise will be. Begin by bending your elbow, and lower your body toward the ground until you have reached a 90-degree angle with your elbows. (If you can’t make it to 90-degrees, just start with a micro-bend in your elbows to build strength) Be sure to stay close to the bench. Press down into the step, straightening your elbows to return to the starting position.

Strawberry-Yogurt Popsicle

Strawberry-Yogurt Popsicle

Yield: 6 (3 oz. mold)

2 cups strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 cup plain yogurt


  1. Place the strawberries and sugar in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
    2. Transfer to a bowl and stir in lemon juice and yogurt.
    3. Spoon the mixture into the molds and insert sticks.
    4. Freeze for 8 hours, or up to a week.
    5. To unmold the pops, run water over the exterior of the mold for a few seconds, then gently pull on the popsicle out.



Note: Nutrition information calculated using SuperTracker (